January 1829-September 1831

The Collected Letters, Volume 5


TC TO JOHN A. CARLYLE; 18 September 1830; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18300918-TC-JAC-01; CL 5:160-166.


Craigenputtoch, 18th September, 1830—

My Dear Jack,

In answer to your last most welcome and gratifying Letter,1 it will be best to give you some history of my movements since it arrived, which may at the same time account for my little delay in writing, if indeed you have felt such.

Jamie came up from Scotsbrig with some sort of Colt to turn out to grass here for winter, and as Mary, and with less determination I myself, had been talking of a journey to Scotsbrig, we all three yoked Larry into the gig, this day week, and set forth thitherward, more to our own satisfaction than to that of Larry, who however being in good condition ran very handsomely. At Dumfries we found your Letter, and read it in our inn, over a glass of beer (Jamie, tho' no Temperance-Society man, having as good as forsworn alcohol); and all agreed that it was the best news we had heard for many a day. At Scotsbrig, our Mother came bounding out to meet us; our Father too was greatly recovered, indeed seemed to be as well as he has been for a long time; all the rest were in their usual state of health. The Harvest was but on the point of beginning with them, and that was but their first day of peat-carting, so wet had the Summer been: however, there was a very handsome crop standing on its feet for them, their Landlord they had met with the suitable face, and on the whole were much better to do than most others. My Father's complaint had been nothing else than some sort of Dyspepsy; and it has now left him, chiefly I believe by aid of a better diet, for he has forsworn bread-and-milk, and takes his Tea night and morning, with our Mother, quite cheerily as if that had always been the fashion.2 He has recovered his spirits too, and voice, and talked with me a langes und breites [at length] thro' the whole Sunday. I read them your Letter, and in returning from the preaching, they found another for my Mother, which also was eagerly consumed, and for which your good Correspondent charged me repeatedly to express her high thankfulness, and wishes to hear from you often and always. It would have done your heart good to see the gladness with which all listened to the good tidings you sent; the true hopes and prayers with which all seemed to look into your future. The religiosen Bücher [religious books], which came safe at the appointed day, I had of my own accord taken down to Scotsbrig; also your two Magazine Papers on ‘St John Long’ and ‘Animal Magnetism,’3 which last were approvingly read there. The good people are also grown great Politicians, on the strength of your Newspapers, which even our Father reads with avidity: of late I have generally sent them down the Examiner, which they declare to be the King of the whole. His Honour's controversy with Sir Anthony4 had amused them much, for Graham after reading it had sent down the Papers: ‘it was quite like one of our old Hill Letters,’5 they said; a tankard of the smallest wheep [weakest beer] churned into froth, tho' before run sour. I could not but laugh heartily, and call it the prodooction of a rude alidge,6 on Sir Anthony's part, for he is the real brewer.

Here, however, I must introduce a little episode to thank you in my own and the Anderson's name for your great talent and success as a Commission-man. No action you ever did of the like magnitude gave greater pleasure than that Stroquhan Letter.7 Mrs Whigham and Mrs Mundell gallopped up with it the day it came, where at Stroquhan it was like a reprieve from death, and ‘kept them awake all night’ with the joyfullest tumult: they sent their maid gallopping up hither with it, and the whole Glen knew the tidings before sunset. Your fame here has become great, their gratitude to you is boundless. They have since had a multiplicity of Letters, one from their Brother himself, who had got to Calcutta, and expected to find a passage directly, so that he may be here in some six weeks. They wish much he could see you in London, where it might be in his power they think to do you some good. Miss Anderson yesterday pressed this point much upon me; of which I promised to give you notice, and said that you might easily leave your card for him at a Sir Something Reid's (from this County) at whose Counting-house he is sure to be. However, they said he would be back in London speedily, and at all events would then see you with greater deliberation. We are all very glad at these things, and proud that you have had a share in them. Farther, the Book-parcel, which as you may have inferred came duly according to announcement, was an acceptable and well managed thing. The Advertisements and other social rubbage (débris) of your monstrous Babylon were very welcome to me: in your packet, as in a Cockle-shell, one might hear the mighty roar of the Ocean they had come from, which here lies so distant. Jane thanks you kindly for your Book; rejoices, as we all do, that you have now got your hand to the plough, and sends you all manner of good wishes and encouragements for your warfare.

But now to return to my Narrative. On Monday morning Grahame8 came down to breakfast, read your ‘St John Long,’ and insisted on my riding up with him to Grange:9 we went by Waterbeck and Torbeckhill, over the wet moor; had a meek, gently pleasant afternoon; I returned about eight o'clock, and found—O wonder and terror—an Express from Dumfries with tidings that the Jeffreys had notified that they would all be at Craigenputtoch that night! Of the riding and running, the scouring and scraping and Caleb-Balderstone10 arranging my unfortunate but shifty and invincible Goody must have had I say nothing: enough, she is the cleverest of housewives, and might put innumerable Blues to shame. I set out next morning, taking Jean with me instead of Mary, who is not very well; and on arriving here, actually found the Dean of Faculty with his Adherents sitting comfortably in a house swept and garnished, awaiting my arrival. Of the shine [party] itself I have room for no description: it all went prosperously on, and yesterday morning they set out homeward, reducing us instantly to our own more commodious farthing rushlight, which is our usual illumination. The worthy Dean is not very well, and I fear not very happy, and we all like him even better than we did. He is the most sparkling pleasant little fellow I ever saw in life; a sort of Goldoni;11 or Southern Comic Minstrel, an Italian Poet or even Poem. But you are to hear from him in person directly: he has got a Letter from Hazzlitt [sic], strangely requesting £100 from him; and determines to consult you on the subject, and in the mean time to send £50 thro' your hands. What is the matter with Hazzlitt? What communing have you with him? Poor Galloway! is Hazzlitt too going that way?12— Jeffrey will also tell you about the Magnetischen Bücher,13 which I gathered up into a Parcel (there were three red volumes and three blue, all that I could find or hear of), and gave him to deliver to Black in Edinr, who would send them on by the first steamboat parcel (he supposed very soon): if you want them instantly, write, in your answer to Jeffrey, and for some shillings you will get them by the Mail. Jeffrey also took my whole Lit. Hist. Ms. with him, being eager to have it published by Longman or some one, if he thought it would do. I think not, and have already made up my mind to that negative issue. Here too I may mention that I have had some unsatisfactory correspondence with Editor Cochrane14 on the subject of cutting it into Articles, and about ten days ago, was obliged figuratively speaking to put him softly out of doors: however, he returns with a meeker face, and begs farther conference. I reckon him not a bad yet an altogether boorish man, with whom I am little careful to have farther trade, and that not as inferior or as equal can any right trade subsist between a writer and him. Happily we can do either way. I am going to write something of my own;15 I have sworn it. Meanwhile tell Fraser that I am gathering little trifles for him, and shall send him somewhat by the first opportunity. It is a strange Magazine, all full of Maginnism,16 yet with many good things, and very like selling: tell me if you can who manages it, who writes in it; how it works and has its being.

I am much gratified by your reported visit to Shooter's Hill, whither I think you should frequently return. The people are among the worthiest, Mrs S. I continue to regard as an Einzige [a unique person]. It gratifies me much to hear that they are my readers and approvers. Thank you for all your news; and see to send me more.17 What is George Irving doing, whom you have not mentioned for many months? I fear the Orator's onslaught on the Pope will profit little: warum die Todten tödten [why kill the dead]?

I had innumerable things to say, but must now restrict myself to one single point: Mary's indisposition, above alluded to, on which we know not whom to consult. Since Whitsunday she has had no Period: this surely is an alarming state. She herself does not seem to complain much; does her work, is not graver than usual; only seems a little puffy in flesh, and has headaches more frequently. Mrs Welsh prescribed a course of Magnesia, which however after three weeks of constant trial, did no good: I promised to our Mother that I would write to you, and that you would write again with your best advice. Mary was once that way for six months before; but recovered herself whenever she came to the country—out of Dumfries where she then lived. Counsel her for the best; she is to be here after Tuesday.— No more, dear Brother, but my blessing!

[Postscript:] You will not fail to tell us minutely of your progress, or no-progress, which is all that we can expect for a time. Thank Heaven however that you are now a free man: I have prophecied a hundred times that you wanted nothing more.— I remember your street, and cannot but think you have been fortunate in finding so cheap a Lodging there. It is the very place for you. Be of good courage, my dear Brother, and neither fear of the Future nor hope of it, but feel that you are at work, and defy it. Our united blessings are with you.

Write minutely: next time I will tell you all that I am scheming about winter's work; I have yet fixed on nothing; but must and will fix, and—execute too. Ille labor [That is the task]!18

Poor old Thomas Clow of Dogslack is dead: his disease was in the liver; he had never lain bedrid; and died sitting on a chair.

We talk of all being at the grand Cattle-show on Tuesday, which is to be the most astonishing meeting ever held here abouts[.] M'Diarmid has invited us to stay with him.

Give another dash at St John Long! Dissect his Documents.19

Alick will shear on Monday, if it prove dry. Nothing settled about the Farm.

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